Military calls for calm after Mindanao church, mosque blasts

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 30 2019 01:49 PM | Updated as of Jan 30 2019 05:17 PM

Troops secure the area around the cathedral in Jolo, Sulu in the aftermath of twin bombings, Jan. 28, 2019. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - (UPDATE) The Armed Forces of the Philippines on Wednesday urged Filipinos to remain calm even as it called for vigilance following successive bombings of a church and mosque in Mindanao.

Military spokesperson Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo called on the public not to be "swayed" by the supposed religious color behind the incidents. 

“We once again call for sobriety and calm on the part of our people. Let us not be swayed by the recent developments that seem to project a religious complexion in the recent tragic incidents," he said in a statement.

Two people were killed while four others were wounded in a grenade attack on a mosque in Zamboanga City before dawn Wednesday.

The attack happened just four days after twin explosions rocked a Catholic church in Jolo, Sulu, leaving 21 people dead and 100 others hurt. 

Sunday's church attack was claimed by the Islamic State, but the military is convinced that it was perpetrated by local terror group Abu Sayyaf.

Authorities are also looking at the possibility that it was a suicide bombing.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Wednesday said it was unlikely that the two attacks are related.

"We're still looking at it pero wala naman kaming nakitang koneksyon eh (but we don't see any connection)," he said in a media briefing in Manila.

The military also encouraged Filipinos to report to authorities "unusual developments" in their areas, unattended packages, and the presence of unfamiliar persons.

"Let us remain vigilant and pro-active. We exhort our citizens: for your help and cooperation with your government security forces in addressing these evolving challenges," Arevalo said.

The military's Western Mindanao Command, meanwhile, appealed to Filipinos to verify information on alleged bomb plots and military operations.

"Let us not easily believe information about alleged bomb plots and military operations circulated by bogus account users through messages or social media posts," it said in a statement.

"Stop sharing and posting fake news. It truly does not help, rather it aggravates the situation," it added.